It’s no surprise that LinkedIn is one of the fastest-growing social media sites – used mainly for professional networking. However, many nonprofits overlook LinkedIn as a practical tool for engaging media.
While many organizations have started using Twitter to reach journalists – because journalists use it to promote their stories and search for new story ideas and sources, as shown HERE–LinkedIn is emerging as the new place to connect with journalists.
A new survey by Arketi – a PR and digital marketing firm – shows that 92 percent of journalists have a LinkedIn account as of August 2011, a 7 percent increase since 2009.
For nonprofits looking to build relationships with journalists, here are four reasons to use LinkedIn:
1. LinkedIn is a great place to research reporters and learn about their backgrounds and interests. This allows nonprofits to find common ground with journalists to better focus their pitches. Plus, it’s always helpful to know something about a journalist’s previous work experience, causes they support or their alma mater.
2. Reporters use LinkedIn as a tool for finding sources. Nonprofits should monitor the “Answers” section on LinkedIn frequently and engage as much as possible. Journalists use that section to pose questions related to potential stories, and it is a great way to raise the visibility of your staff and promote their expertise. The “Answers” section allows you to search by topic area. For example, if your organization is focused on education issues, you might search under the “Education and Schools Questions” to find a post to respond to and your answer may be quoted in an article.
3. Sharing content on LinkedIn is easy and user-friendly. This makes it easy to find recent stories that reporters have posted and topics that they are interested in covering. Organizations also have the opportunity to post their own content on LinkedIn and some nonprofits even link their Twitter account to their LinkedIn account to repurpose the content for a different audience.
4. LinkedIn is a cost-effective way to reach journalists. Many nonprofits do not have the funds to invest in expensive databases that track media contacts, such as Cision. But free tools, such as LinkedIn, offer nonprofits a cheaper and easier way to connect with journalists with the added bonus being that you can build an actual relationship with the person and get to know them as more than just a name, an email address, or a phone number.
As nonprofits continue to find new and innovative ways to communicate and spread their messages, social media is one tool that is designed to achieve a key function: building relationships through engagement.
And while nonprofits may use LinkedIn less than other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, the jury is still out as to which one is most useful for fostering relationships with journalists to increase media coverage. Which social network do you find most useful for media relations?
About the author: Abbey Meltzer is the Deputy Communications Director at the Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit that serves as an adviser to the nation to improve health. Abbey also is pursuing a master’s degree from Georgetown University in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. You can find Abbey on LinkedIn here.